Restore Our Vote

Restoration of Rights in Virginia

On December 18, 2014, the McAuliffe administration established a much easier application process for individuals convicted of serious felonies.  The new process for individuals convicted of more serious offenses has been reduced from a thirteen page application to a one page application.  It removes a number of requirements, including the requirement of a letter to the governor and three letters of recommendation as part of the application.  As was declared in April 2014, all drug offenses will be considered non-violent instead of violent offenses, and processed under the less onerous criteria.  Additionally, for those who have been convicted of a violent felony, the mandatory five year waiting period has been reduced to three years.

Virginia is one of only four states in the nation to permanently disenfranchise its citizens convicted of a felony and boasts the second highest disenfranchisement rate in the nation! More than 450,000 Virginians are banned from voting for the rest of their lives due to a felony conviction—that’s nearly 7% of Virginia’s population! Over 350,000 disenfranchised Virginians have already completed their prison sentences and are living in the community, working, and paying taxes!

Worse yet, twenty percent of African-Americans in Virginia are permanently banned from voting.  African-Americans and other minorities are disproportionately impacted by the law.  Under the current law, their voting rights can only be restored by a discretionary act of the Governor.

How to Restore Your Rights

Non-Violent Felony Criteria:

  • Have been convicted of a non-violent felony in a Virginia court, or convicted in a U.S. District Court, military court or a court of another state or territory
  • Have completed serving the prison sentence and been released from probation or parole; and
  • Have paid all court costs, fines to the Commonwealth and restitution to the victims, satisfied all court-ordered conditions, and have no pending felony charges.

Three ways to request restoration of rights for non-violent offenses:

  1. Complete the online request form on the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website;
  2. Call the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s restoration of rights hotline between normal business hours at 1-855-575-9177 and submit your information; or
  3. Print and complete this form, then mail it to the Secretary of the Commonwealth at: Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth Restoration of Rights Division P.O. Box 2454 Richmond, VA 23218

Additional information can be found on the Virginia Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website. The Advancement Project has also published an informative information packet entitled “Virginia Civil Rights Restoration Guide 2013“.

Violent Felony Criteria:

  • If you have been convicted of a violent felony or election law offense, an application and supporting documentation is required.  There are several requirements listed in the application.
  • Applications must be complete to be considered and are reviewed in the order in which they are received.
  • You must have been released from supervised probation for a minimum of three years.
  • You must have paid all costs and fines related to your conviction.
  • You cannot have a conviction for a DWI within the past five years immediately preceding your application.
  • Click here for examples of felonies classified as violent.  If you do not know if your felony conviction is considered violent, contact the Restoration of Rights Division at 1-855-575-9177.

If you have questions or need assistance, please contact:

Virginia Voter Restoration Project
ACLU of Virginia
701 E. Franklin St., Ste. 1412
(804) 644-8080

Learn more about felon disfranchisement in the United States:  National ACLU

Get Informed: Briefing Paper on Felon Disenfranchisement in Virginia

Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Restoration of Rights: Frequently Asked Questions

The Advancement Project: Virginia Civil Rights Restoration Guide 2013

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